It’s just a brief smile crossing your face
I’m running speed trials standing in place
The troubling viral trend of the “hilarious” Black poor person
May 7, 2013
Charles Ramsey, the man who helped rescue three Cleveland women presumed dead after going missing a decade ago, has become an instant Internet meme. It’s hardly surprising—the interviews he gave yesterday provide plenty of fodder for a viral video, including memorable soundbites (“I was eatin’ my McDonald’s”) and lots of enthusiastic gestures. But as Miles Klee and Connor Simpson have noted, Ramsey’s heroism is quickly being overshadowed by the public’s desire to laugh at and autotune his story, and that’s a shame. Ramsey has become the latest in a fairly recent trend of “hilarious” black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a “colorful” style that is always immediately recognizable as poor or working-class.
Before Ramsey, there was Antoine Dodson, who saved his younger sister from an intruder, only to wind up famous for his flamboyant recounting of the story to a reporter. Since Dodson’s rise to fame, there have been others: Sweet Brown, a woman who barely escaped her apartment complex during a fire last year, and Michelle Clarke, who couldn’t fathom the hailstorm that rained down in her hometown of Houston, and in turn became “the next Sweet Brown.”
Granted, the buzzworthy tactic of reporters interviewing the most loquacious witnesses to a crime or other event is nothing new, and YouTube has countless examples of people of all ethnicities saying ridiculous things. One woman, for instance, saw fit to casually mention her breasts while discussing a local accident, while another man described a car crash with theatrical flair. Earlier this year, a “hatchet-wielding hitchhiker” named Kai matched Dodson’s fame with his astonishing account of rescuing a woman from a racist attacker. But none of those people have been subjected to quite the same level of derisive memeification as Brown, Clark, and now, perhaps, Ramsey—the inescapable echoes of “Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife!” and “Kabooyaw,” the tens of millions of YouTube hits and cameos in other viral videos, even commercials.
It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform. Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the “ghetto,” socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.
Ramsey is particularly striking in this regard, since, for a moment at least, he put the issue of race front and center himself. Describing the rescue of Amanda Berry and her fellow captives, he says, “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway!”
The candid statement seems to catch the reporter off guard; he ends the interview shortly afterward. And it’s notable that among the many memorable things Ramsey said on camera, this one has gotten less meme-attention than most. Those who are simply having fun with the footage of Ramsey might pause for a second to actually listen to the man. He clearly knows a thing or two about the way racism prevents us from seeing each other as people.
Now that you know this is a thing, please stop sharing these memes. Poor Black people speaking candidly about various serious incidents isn’t a hilarious joke.
Bloody Panda was birthed in the cold sub-chambers of grim New York City, United States in 2003.
A thirst for new musical perversions besieged guitarist/firebreather Rothenberger and 4-string undulationist Camphire and the Doom Gods answered by bestowing upon them the Archpriestess of Doom, Yoshiko Ohara. Vokillist Ohara’s demo (“Spiral”) became the basis for early musical collaboration. Songs were composed strictly on the last day of the Earth’s existence, and high peaks of scorn were exhibited thusly. Keymaster/Necromancer Black McDowell further fortified the project and the undying funeral that is Bloody Panda was hence born. Battleskins are being provided by Dan Weiss, renowned tabla and drum master of depths unknown.
(bio from LastFM)
thou, I, not, that, we, to give, who, this, what, man/male, ye, old, mother, to hear, hand, fire, to pull, black, to flow, bark, ashes, to spit, worm
If I were a poet I could make one that would appeal to 15 000 years old humans using these words only.
the entire sunn o))) discog is now available on bandcamp
time to annoy the neighbors
The American artist Ellen Gallagher is admired to the point of reverence on the other side of the Atlantic. Her distinctive combination of politics and prettiness has been catnip for collectors and critics alike these last 20 years.
Photograph: courtesy of Gagosian
Gut Feeling (ex-undying/catharsis/torch runner)- S/T 7in is available now (no pre-order!) beautifully packaged in custom die-cut screenprinted foldover covers, with two sided screenprinted inserts with 8 alternate heads and available on three colors of vinyl.
FFO: champion, comeback kid, modern life is war, etc
available singly, or in multi record packs from:
Bitter Melody Records:
baby blue: /100
gold w/ red mix: /150
clear with green splotches: /250
please spread around, reblog and pass word along. we went way over the top on the packaging on these and would love to get them into peoples hands.
In light of Young And In The Way signing to Deathwish Inc, I’d like to repost their cover of Tool’s “Sober” from our second covers compilation.
Congrats to Young And In The Way, well deserved!
|—||Benjamin Franklin (via 5ullen)|